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From the edge of the abyss,
This review is from: On The Eve: The Jews of Europe before the Second World War (Paperback)
I knew I'd be reading about a lost world - the gap in the Europe left by the Shoah.
What I didn't expect was a description of so many different communities with different priorities.
Different factions, different ways of being Jewish.
Some trying to bridge the gap between shtetl & city.
Traditional Jewish life was unravelling.
Communities thought they embedded in the countries they called home.
But those countries didn't want them.
Nobody wanted to them to live among them.
And the Nazis didn't want them to live.
Wasserstein doesn't delve into counterfactual - what would be the point?
According to the Division of Jewish Demography and Statistics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (2009 statistics) there might be as many as 32 million Jews in the world now, if the Shoah hadn't happened.
In plain language, a generation was murdered.
And their children & grandchildren.
This isn't a memoir about martyrs v. bad guys.
Or weakness v. strength.
It's more subtle than that - it's social history about trying to find a place in the world.
And not finding it.
And dying because you can't find a place.
Read it more than once.
Read it whether you're Jewish or not.
Read it especially if your Jew-ish.